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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm having a really tough time with staghorn algae in the past week or two. I had an outbreak of columnaris, ran a UV filter for a about 10 days. When I removed it I also did a big trim and removed 90% of my red root floaters since they were practically covering the entire surface.

Since then it's just an explosion of staghorn. I've been spot treating it with excel and it's killing it, but it's also hurting my plants where I'm spot treating it (see pictures).

From what I've gathered staghorn is common in Low CO2 tanks, issues with iron, and high ammonia. Don't know if this is all true but it's reoccurring theme in online posts/lititure.

I've been thinking about reducing my lighting time to have a larger siesta, or maybe turning down the intensity of the lights even more. Currently 5-4-5-2-1 with a two Siestas and the last hour being moonlight.

I also just tested my phosphates and iron(free and chelated). Neither are showing up in any quantity on the test. In the past trace amounts were detectable in the tests.

My last time testing then was Dec 30 (a week before the UV filter) and they were
Free FE .25 ppm
Cleated FE .1 ppm
Phos 0-.25ppm


Did the UV light cause alot of photoreduction of DOC-bound iron, causing a surplus in iron that triggered this explosion of staghorn algae?

My tank almost has zero surface agitation at this point, in hopes that it would boost CO2 levels in the tank. I do notice my bad looking Monte Carlo is occasionally pearling since reducing surface agitation.

Am I doing more harm than good with the spot treatment? It is killing the staghorn, but hurting the plants, and it's growing faster than the amount I can dose with spot treatment.

Any advice would be helpful.

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I assume that this is the 90 gal tank you wrote about earlier.

The UV light probably would cause photoreduction of DOC-bound iron and make it more available for uptake by both plants and algae. However, removing the floaters could have made a major contribution to a sudden explosion of staghorn algae? And the H2O2 treatment hurt the plants, so that they leached out their nutrients to further feed the attached algae. So it could be that any one or all of 3 factors were operating here. That said, I doubt the UV had that much effect. (Rooted plants should be getting their iron from the substrate.)

Do you know what the GH and KH is in this tank? What is your water source? Does house have a water softener (ion-exchanger)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I assume that this is the 90 gal tank you wrote about earlier.

Do you know what the GH and KH is in this tank? What is your water source? Does house have a water softener (ion-exchanger)?
Yep this is my 90 gallon.

I do have a carbon filter and water softener for the home. I did foresee this as being a problem prior to setting up the tank. So I macgyver'd a bypass system. (I drain the pipes for the home prior to filling/topping off)

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I did do a water change after the columnaris, but I'm normally very careful about making sure I do bypass the softener before doing anything that involves the tanks. Could be possible that I forgot.

GH is 140 PPM and KH 50 ppm in the tank.

Source water for the house tests at 160ppm and 110KH. I do have that Controsoil substrate cap which does lower KH/pH, so could explain that, or I didn't flush the house one time/bypass the softener.
 

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I've had a few outbreaks of BBA in the past. The thing that helped my situation the most was reducing the blue lights in the overall spectrum. My overall intensity is set at 70 or 80% (can't remember at the moment) and blue lights are at 3%. I'd do away completely with the "moon light" period which I'm guessing is all blue light. It doesn't really do anything and I doubt the fish care one way or the other. Trim the leaves that are hopelessly smothered by the algae.
I'd also avoid reducing the intensity of your light because you're just making it harder for your plants to compete with the algae. I agree with Diana that reducing your floaters by 90% probably had a big contribution to your algae outbreak. They're like super sponges that soak up excess nutrients that would otherwise be available to algae. It becomes a careful balance between having enough floaters yet still letting enough light through to keep your plants growing.
Good luck!
 

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Yep this is my 90 gallon.
GH is 140 PPM and KH 50 ppm in the tank.
Source water for the house tests at 160ppm and 110KH. I do have that Controsoil substrate cap which does lower KH/pH, so could explain that, or I didn't flush the house one time/bypass the softener.
Thanks for Info. It sounds like the GH and KH are okay.

I would stop any H2O2 treatment.

If you want to play around with something that won't hurt your plants, I would add KHCO3 (potassium bicarbonate) to get the KH up a little. I've been dosing 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gal. I used to use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to increase KH. But adding K is definitely better than Na for plants. (I bought a pound of the crystals on-line for about $20-25 from folks that sell nuts--'Nuts.com' .) Furthermore, aquatic plants that use bicarbonates (50% of species) as an alternate carbon source generate a high pH on the top side of their leaves (pH 10 to 11) due to biogenic decalcification. One premier scientist speculated that this high pH on top of the leaves could inhibit attached algae. I agree. But no one has ever tested this as far as I know.

Carpet plants are always a problem in a tall tank. They need light but they're at the bottom of the tank not getting that much light. It's tough for them.

Lots of variables here. But if your other plants are doing well, the tank might stabilize on its own.
 

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My last time testing then was Dec 30 (a week before the UV filter) and they were
Free FE .25 ppm
Cleated FE .1 ppm
Phos 0-.25ppm
From my own experience making my own fertilizer 0.1ppm chelated is fine how do you measure chelated iron? UV filters are generally bad for chelated iron levels. However your Free FEE might be a problem. If the iron is not chelated it can react with other nutrients forming insoluble iron phosphate, iron borate, or iron molybdate. This can case phsophate, borate, deficiency. Also my observations in my tank and test results has taught me that many test kits cannot tell the different between soluble and insuluble nutrients. But plants generallycan only use soluble nutrients.

When you removed your red root floaters you increased light levels, plant growth rates. And this likely changed nutrient levels and possibly caused nutrient deficiency. When there is a nutrient deficiency plants generally struggle while algae grows rapidly.

while we would all like there to be one or two causes of an algae breakout the drought is that there are likely many different causes. In my tank which has been low tech and high tech at different times hair algae has always been a problem but stag horn,,, I have not seen it.
 

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I am having the same problem.I was told to increase flow, clean filters, vacuum the bottom. And lay off the iron. Then I went online and one article suggested to use Fluval Excel? The one that acts like liquid CO2. So this is day 2, haven't noticed any difference but both canisters were filthy. My sponge that was on one of my canisters was totally clogged. Another sponge filter was very dirty. I plan on getting a larger filter for my tank because the other two smaller canisters don't provide enough flow. I also put 2 small powerbeads in the tank also. did some trimming. will be doing more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am having the same problem.I was told to increase flow, clean filters, vacuum the bottom. And lay off the iron. Then I went online and one article suggested to use Fluval Excel? The one that acts like liquid CO2. So this is day 2, haven't noticed any difference but both canisters were filthy. My sponge that was on one of my canisters was totally clogged. Another sponge filter was very dirty. I plan on getting a larger filter for my tank because the other two smaller canisters don't provide enough flow. I also put 2 small powerbeads in the tank also. did some trimming. will be doing more.
Excell works great if your spot treating it, but it also does harm to the plants. You need to turn off the filters then dose it directly on the staghorn, 2-3 days latter it'll turn brown and go soft then everything eats it. My problem is it's growing as fast as I can kill it and just starting to harm the plants.

I just used some potassium bicarbonate like Diana suggested it, I'll let you know if it helps, but it already seemed to have slowed. Could be that the red root floaters are multiplying.
 

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Thanks for Info. It sounds like the GH and KH are okay.

I would stop any H2O2 treatment.

If you want to play around with something that won't hurt your plants, I would add KHCO3 (potassium bicarbonate) to get the KH up a little. I've been dosing 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gal. I used to use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to increase KH. But adding K is definitely better than Na for plants. (I bought a pound of the crystals on-line for about $20-25 from folks that sell nuts--'Nuts.com' .) Furthermore, aquatic plants that use bicarbonates (50% of species) as an alternate carbon source generate a high pH on the top side of their leaves (pH 10 to 11) due to biogenic decalcification. One premier scientist speculated that this high pH on top of the leaves could inhibit attached algae. I agree. But no one has ever tested this as far as I know.

Carpet plants are always a problem in a tall tank. They need light but they're at the bottom of the tank not getting that much light. It's tough for them.

Lots of variables here. But if your other plants are doing well, the tank might stabilize on its own.
Thanks for the information. I am going to try this also.
 

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The problem is with attached algae? Would like to see a picture of this?
If you clean out the filters, you'll get more flow. (Canister filters can go anaerobic and cause major problems when they get clogged up.)
You are exactly right. Cleaned both canister filters, also cleaned the strainers, and flow increased enormously.
Thank you very much
 
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